Public health advocates know our environment, filled with processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, is largely to blame for America's obesity epidemic. That's why there's a big push to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
"We have a physiological drive for high-sugar, high-calorie foods," says Stephanie Rost, a registered dietician with the Weight Watchers 360 program. "These are the foods that we're surrounded by, in an environment where it's OK to eat wherever and whenever you like."
Changing our environment, experts say, may be more effective than trying to control our natural impulses. Borrow a few ideas from Rost and Anytime Fitness chief scientific officer Brian Zehetner to revamp your space for weight loss success. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
1. Give your fridge a makeover. Let's start in the kitchen. The first thing to do is toss or give away any "trigger foods," Rost says. (Yes, that means the raw cookie dough you find yourself eating at 2 a.m.) Next, move fruits, vegetables and lean protein to a shelf at eye level. Put less healthy foods farther down or in the back where they're difficult to spot. Finished? Tackle your pantry with the same tips in mind. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
2. Declutter your countertop. Are there cookies, candy and chocolate boxes lining your countertop? Put them away behind closed doors to help you avoid the munchies. There's research behind this tip, Rost says. "It's a lot harder to just use willpower to say, 'I'm not going to eat this,' when it's literally staring you down." If the ghost of sugar past still haunts you, replace it with a bowl of fresh fruit. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
3. Hide a screen or two. You probably have a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet and several TVs at home. Do yourself a favor and hide one or two for a while, Zehetner says. You're less likely to surf the Internet during commercials -- and more likely to do some push-ups or planks -- if your tablet is in the nightstand drawer. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
4. Make standing mandatory. It's no secret that sitting all day can significantly reduce your lifespan. Identify tasks in your office you can do standing up, Zehetner suggests, then make moving mandatory. For instance, place often-needed files on top of a shelf. Or map your computer to a printer across the room so you have to stretch your legs every couple of hours. Even better, ask the boss to spring for a treadmill desk. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
5. Identify workplace obstacles. Avoid the break room. And the candy jar on your co-worker's desk. And the doughnuts at your morning meeting. The office environment is ripe with free food just waiting to derail your diet. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
6. Pack snacks for the road. Let's move to the car, where you probably spend a fair amount of time commuting to work or driving the kids to all their after-school activities. Packing healthy snacks will ensure you avoid a fast-food fling when time is limited, Rost says. Place a jar of almonds in the backseat, or some peanut butter crackers in the glove compartment for those on-the-go hunger pangs. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
7. Keep your gym bag handy. Zehetner wears workout gear under his work clothes at all times. While that may be a bit extreme, you can take advantage of unexpected downtime by keeping a packed gym bag in your car or at work. Canceled meeting? Hit the gym. Kid's soccer practice runs long? Do a few laps around the field. "When you get home, life sort of takes over and it's harder to get out," Zehetner says. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock